Just Say No to Advertising Your Business via Trick-or-Treaters

I’ve always loved Halloween.

As a child I looked forward to Trick-or-Treating with great anticipation.  I recall the year my Mom made ghost costumes for my sister and I, and there was the year I was Cinderella, complete with one of those horrid plastic masks kept on with the thin string of elastic.  Never mind that the plastic mask with the teeny, tiny eye and breath holes practically suffocated me .  Toss it, you say?  Oh, no.  It was part of my costume, and it was pulled down over my face and pushed up for breaths.  Every ten seconds.  All.  Night.  Long.

The last year I could get away with Trick-or-Treating was the year I turned thirteen.   By then too self-conscious and fearful of being uncool, the only possible costume was a hobo.  Every seventh grader in central Jersey was a hobo that year.  My friends and I made the rounds of my 1000+ apartment complex, finally heading home in triumph with a pillowcase full of candy.

By the next year I was simply too old to go Trick-or-Treating, at least without the censure of the adults opening their doors.  So I talked my neighbor into allowing me to chaperone her three and five year-olds, and I did that for the next three years.

As I got older Halloween became on of the joys of being a parent I most looked forward to.  I would accompany my nephews and my friends’ kids, and dream of someday.

Someday has been here for awhile now, and we’re about to celebrate Son’s sixth Halloween. They’ve all been memorable, terrific.  I’ve loved making his costumes, going to Halloween parties, last year’s parade at school, and Trick-or-Treating with friends.  We are working on costume ideas now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to give up the be-the-cute-thing-Mommy-wants-you-to-be ghost (giving up the ghost – pun intended) in favor of his own choice of a “skeleton zombie”.  Sigh.

Not that Halloween hasn’t had it’s share of disappointments.  When I was very little we’d eat the candy apples and other homemade goodies we got as part of our cache.  Then sick people started putting things like razor blades in apples, so we had to give up those lovingly made treats and start inspecting our candy.

Then there was the bane of the northern childrens’ existence – being forced by our mothers to – gasp! – wear a coat over our costumes!!  Oh, the insanity of it all!

Now there is a relatively new trend that is irking me to no end.

People are advertising their businesses on the backs of Trick-or-Treaters.  There are blog posts all over the blogosphere promoting the practice, and giving suggestions on how to maximize the impact.   Entrepreneurs can attach business cards to candy, give free samples (that no child would give any type of hoot about at all – they just want CANDY!),  links to your blog and coupons.  Coupons for a “free” karate lesson (and afterward the big sell for $120/month lessons), or $5 off your $20 Avon order, or free estimates for pest control!

No one loves a coupon more than I.  And I understand that times are tough.  Finding creative ways to advertise is not only important, but vital to the survival of small business, and the recovery of our economy.

I get it.  I do.

But please don’t do it on the backs of children Trick-or-Treating.  I don’t want to be handed your business card, or invited to sell Herbalife.  I don’t want to think about you or your business while I’m watching my son bask in the glow of praise for his costume,  thank givers politely, and run to catch up to his friends.

I don’t want your business there.  It’s tainting one of the most fun, carefree rites of childhood.  Moving the focus from my child.  Where it’s supposed to be.

Don’t you understand that he’ll be thirty tomorrow?

So, if we are on the receiving end of your solicitation, know that it will end up in the trash, and I will be less likely to patronize your business.  Actually, pretty definitely not likely at all.

And, for the record, I also don’t want to see ads on textbooks, playground equipment, or school buses.  Capisce?

Gracias.

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